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When we meet the ‘other’ face to face, our stances shift

In response to Keith O’Brien’s article “Do the math? Uh-oh” (Ideas, Oct. 20), we should not be surprised that numbers and rational arguments don’t change the minds of people about contentious political issues. What works to change attitudes is developing face-to-face relationships among people who often don’t meet each other.

When a group of conservative Christians in California started tutoring undocumented immigrants, the “illegal aliens” became not so alien, and church members’ anti-immigrant attitudes changed. Meeting face to face with people, not numbers, is more effective in affecting our thoughts and political positions.

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People who previously were labeled yet unknown become known and real. This is why community organizers tell stories and constantly work to bring people into relationship with each other. It may be easy to maintain attitudes about people we don’t know well. This is much harder when we encounter a real human being.

Michael Jacoby Brown


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